The Best Animal Sprinters

Animal sprinters - CheetahSo, you think humans are fast? Well, guess again, in our common everyday existence we are not capable to outrun lions and tigers … and leopards and cheetahs. So, let’s take a look at a few of nature’s real speedsters. Here are some of the best animal sprinters.

If you are going to be a bird that can’t fly, you better be able to run. That’s exactly what an Ostrich can do.
The ostrich is the fastest animal in the world on two legs. Yet, maybe a bird brain, but it sure can run up to 45 mph. ( About 72,42 km/h )
The secret is the springiness in their legs. The recoil of elastic energy stored in their tendons generates eighty-three percent more power than human ones. An ostrich covers 10 to 16 feet ( 3 to 4,8 meters ) in a single stride, they move so fast they need to use their wings as rotors in order to change direction.

Another speedster is the Thoroughbred horse.
There are over 300 breeds of horses and the fastest over a short distance is the Thoroughbred. The stride of it is 20 feet long. ( 6,09 meters ) That’s like an Olympic jump compared to us humans. A three-year-old in its prime can cover a mile ( 1,6 km ) in 1 minute and 40 seconds, with high speed of 38 mph. ( about 61 km/h ) Comparing that to the fastest human who does it just under 4 minutes – which is around 15 mph. ( ~ 24 km/h ) The rear legs of a thoroughbred act like springs, as they bend and straighten with each stride. This trusts the horse forward as it’s front legs provide a pulling motion. It’s head and neck move in synchronicity with the front legs, aiding in the forward motion. And for a brief moment, during each stride, the horse is completely airborne.

If the Thoroughbred is the king of the racetrack, the Antelope rules over more rugged terrain.
In Africa, there are 71 species of antelope. The Thomson’s gazelle is considered the fastest. It can reach speeds of 50 miles per hour. One phenomenon with the antelope is their tendency for jumping around, ( Called stotting ) even when they are in danger. Most scientists believe it’s a defensive technique. “No one is really sure why they do it, but it appears it is just to show that that specimen is very healthy and fast, signaling the predator “You don’t want to chase me” ” told Christine Bartos curator of Ungulates & Small Mammals at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Animal sprinters - cheetah chase

So, who is the fastest sprinter in the animal kingdom?

Well, all those animals are not even close to the speed of the Acinonyx jubatus, or most commonly known as the Cheetah.

In just a few strides this feline can reach speeds of 70 mph. ( ~ 113 km/h ) From the tip of its nose to the end of its tail, this cat is made for speed. “Their face is designed for enhanced binocular vision and a specialized black line that goes from their eyes to the mouth, that acts as a sun shield when they’re running into the sun,” told Tammy Schmidt – a Curator of Carnivores from the Philadelphia Zoo. ” They also have a very long body and pelvic and shoulder areas, that allow for bigger strides. Their nasal passages, heart, and lungs are all enlarged to support that extra power. Let’s not forget their non-retractable toenails, which are playing the role of football cleats in the land to grab on and run at full speed” Tammy added.

Although, the cheetah must be careful. During a high-speed chase, it can run for about 200 yards ( ~ 183 meters ) before it is exhausted. If it fails to catch its prey the cheetah has to stop, recover and wait to race later the same day.

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